Kampala, the bustling, confident capital city of Uganda, serves as a gateway to Uganda’s jungles and to Lake Victoria, but it’s also a place teeming with its own set of sights, sounds and flavors, not to mention some of the friendliest people on the African continent. Here are some suggestions for what to do while in Kampala.
Day 1: Step Back in Time
Start your visit to Kampala with a morning at the Uganda Museum, where the extensive collection of art and artifacts offers insight into the rich cultural heritage of Uganda. Once you’ve studied up on your local history, head just out of town to visit one of Kampala’s top historical sites, the UNESCO-listed Kasubi Royal Tombs where four kings of the Buganda Kingdom were laid to rest.
Back in Kampala, revisit one of the city’s darker eras with a visit to Lubiri Palace, where the dictator Idi Amin once imprisoned, tortured and murdered thousands of people. The somber experience provides a fascinating contrast to the present-day optimism of Kampala.
Day 2: Modern Kampala
You’ve learned about Kampala’s past, so today is all about experiencing its present. Start with a morning visit to the chaotic and colorful Nakasero Market. Located at the bottom of the hill of the same name, the market specializes in fresh fruit and vegetables, which can be picked up at the city's cheapest prices to fuel the rest of your day.
Once you’ve done some shopping, visit another of modern Kampala’s top attractions, the Old Taxi Park, where thousands of minivan taxis and minibuses cram together in a seemingly impossible swarm awaiting passengers to other parts of the city and beyond.
End your day with a trip to the Uganda National Mosque, the only skyscraper mosque in the country.
Day 3: Grassroots Kampala
For your final day in Kampala, consider giving back to this friendly, hopeful city. In the morning, take a tour of the Kisenyi Slum, the city’s biggest slum, guided by a Slum Aid Project volunteer. While touring the lively neighborhood, you’ll learn about social issues in Kampala as well as what local NGOs are doing to improve the conditions for the slum’s residents.
In the afternoon, visit the YARID Center, another local NGO with projects that help refugees and other displaced persons establish healthy, productive lives in the city. If you have extra time to spare in Kampala, the center welcomes self-supporting volunteers.